Is It High Quality Or Harsh? Echo Park weighs in on planned apartment building

Rendering courtesy Warren Techentin

Rendering courtesy Warren Techentin

ECHO PARK  — Residents from Echo Park and Angeleno Heights got a peek last week at  renderings and plans for a 27-unit Sunset Boulevard apartment building that would be shaded with a metal skin, a design that met with a mixed reaction.

The building designed and developed by architect Warren Techentin – who also created the temporary  La Cage aux Folles  art installation in Silver Lake – would rise on a now vacant lot near Shepard Fairey’s art studio and offices on Sunset Boulevard and Elysian Park Avenue. “The building design is very modern and utilizes layers of “skins” and angular “beaks” that improve efficiency,” said Jennifer Deines, a resident who helped arrange the meeting  hosted by the Echo Park Improvement Assn. “The metal ‘skin’ outer layer is designed to take on the initial thermal impacts, thereby shading the walls from direct impact. The angular beaks (mesh awnings) are designed to shade from direct sunlight at peak hours.”

Most of the 20 people in attendance expressed varied levels of support for Techentin’s design, calling it “innovative” and “high quality” according to Deines. But about a quarter of the group did not like what they saw,  describing it as “harsh” and “institutional” and not a good fit for the neighborhood, she said.

Mike Conley was one of the meeting goers who was critical of the design. “It’s awful. Truly,” said Conley in an email. “It’s one of those snazzy “uber-modern” designs (read: a jumble of unrelated shapes with no unified vision other than Chaos) that will be outdated and downright embarrassing in just a few years.”

There appeared to be universal consensus, however, that the cutting edge building needed some old-fashioned, ground-floor shops or commercial space, which is included in many of the existing buildings along Sunset Boulevard.  Techentin agreed but noted that adding retail could face a complicated city approval process.

Council District 1 as well as the improvement association said they would back efforts to win a variance to allow for ground-level  retail space.

Techentin’s group is awaiting additional funds before it breaks ground on the project, which would be composed of tw0-story, loft apartments ranging  in size from 800 square-foot to more than 1,200 square-feet.


  1. It should be “…residents…got a peek” (not “peak” — )

  2. …Conley went on to explain, “GET OFF MY LAWN!”

    • Actually, what I also said in the email was this:

      The Architect said that he taught aesthetics at Berkeley. I replied that I consume aesthetics, and that, quite frankly, the design is quite unappetizing. Four others agreed with me. Three others were diplomatic, but clearly underwhelmed. The term “interesting” was used a lot. (In Hollywood, “interesting” means “I hate it.”)

      Andrew Garsten, president of EPIA, defended the architect, saying it’s “his vision.” To which I say – true, Andrew, but we have to look at it. For decades. Because architecture is public art. When it becomes outdated, the architect can simply delete it from his portfolio. But we’ll be stuck with it.

      • Please give an example of what type architecture you think should go there. It’s pretty easy to keep saying “no”. Let’s see your solution.

        • Agreed… The majority of residents in the area all seem to hate or dislike any of the ideas that have been proposed, but no one has any suggestions on how it should look or what would be appropriate… I can tell you this… Almost anything is more appropriate than what’s there right now.

          • Actually, several residents worked for many hours, in many meetings, over the course of several months with Aragon Development to get substantial design modifications for their Sunset / Everett project and their Everett Street project.

            Both the architect and the developer were actively engaged with residents to come up with a workable alterations. The final designs are much, much better than the originals.

        • Some nostalgic POS that has been done to death for a hundred years, most likely.

      • They shouldn’t ask residents. If you ask residents to pick a design they’d all pick Palmer’s “Italianate” apartments. Do you ask residents how to do surgery or how to mix concrete or how to write the math curriculum? Why when it comes to art and design everyone is qualified to give an opinion that must be taken to account?

  3. Can we have a rule that if you are going to call something “cutting-edge” you have to do your research well enough to know what is happening in architecture. This idea of wrapping an unremakable design in a warped screen is done to death for 20 years . Not everything has to be “new”, but it makes us all seem dumb when we use terms like cutting edge without any idea what is happening in architecture.

  4. Glad to hear the locals asking that they activate the sidewalk with some retail and windows… looks like a windowless fortress from the ground floor. When did architects become so anti-urban?

    • Seriously. Calling Jane Jacobs (yes, her principles work for Los Angeles too). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Jacobs

    • What is the point of ground floor retail when there is never a space open to park? Eating at Guissados is impossible! And don’t say walk there, no business on this stretch of Sunset could cover the exorbitant rents when relying on locals within walking distance to support their enterprise.

      • Doesn’t seem to be a problem for most of the businesses up and down Sunset without parking… besides, building more mixed use apartments will mean more foot traffic to support those small businesses (and more competition to help stabilize the rents.)

  5. I like that all the imaginary “residents” look like pasty hipsters. Guess we know who they want living there.

    • Yeah, why aren’t they marketing to ExP or the guys who killed that skateboarder instead?? Damn hipsters go home!

    • Yeah the kind of people that obey their parents, study hard, have a career plan and then voila implement it!!! If the locals tried just as hard the rendering would be quite different.

    • “Yeah the kind of people that obey their [wealthy] parents, study hard [at good schools in safe communities subject to no prejudice or stereotypes], have a career plan [and resident role models], and then voila implement it !!!” Buy a clue “Chip”. Not everyone begins from the same starting point in life. Including the “kind of people” you’re obviously excluding from your self-righteous perch.

      Btw, not coincidentally, none of the thieves and vandals that were recently caught by a security cam from a single home’s POV in Silverlake would’ve ever registered on any gang injunction’s radar but that’s the plan. As evidenced by the imaginary residents and future vandals, thieves, and druggies of our community.

      • Proper Dos : You’re selling people short. People from poor, disadvantaged communities, with no resident role models can go on to do great things and be great people! I didn’t have wealthy parents, nor did I go to a particularly good school, was certainly subject to prejudice and stereotypes, though I did have good parents as role models (and, for the most part, obeyed them… maybe that’s the real difference… decent parents) … and am now in the 1% with three fantastic, successful kids, good marriage, etc.

        The people you speak of can do it to.. it just takes discipline and parenting. Don’t sell people short

  6. ” a jumble of unrelated shapes with no unified vision other than Chaos” sounds like more of an endorsement than a detraction to me. But, I’m stuck on all the right and left angles. Humans are constantly creating boxes to put the worlds squiggly content into in a sad attempt to organize what has been laid before them. When you stop trying to organize but instead exist in the shapes your planet has afforded then you will be free of your incessant complaints of your brothers design.

    -The Universe

  7. How about hideous?

  8. Yikes! Definitely not a progressive architectural “vision.” This piece-meal design will look completely dated and depressing in a few years. Let’s recall the overabundance of salmon and teal architecture proliferating LA in the late 80’s & 90’s…gross.


  9. I like it. Build more. Fewer vacant weed-strewn lots, Fewer dilapidated garages, fewer faded storefronts. Can only be a good thing.

  10. Call Madonna! Call Flock of Seagulls! The official building of the 80’s is coming to EP on Sunset. They should have little people out front in the renderings with big hair and huge shoulder pads.

  11. This is a huge F U to anyone walking in front of the building. Disgusting and probably just what we deserve as a people.

  12. I like the design; what do these people want, faux-craftsmen? I’m so glad that it’s not another boring “Santa Monica Modern” apartment building made of boxes in “tasteful” shades of brown, taupe and off white. I agree that it really needs street level retail; parking is only an issue on game days. If lower Sunset is going to become a real neighborhood, they’ll need shops, not dead zones.

  13. I am more concerned about the lack of retail on the bottom level than I am about the design of the building. Without retail, the area will remain dead and cars will just come in and out of the building. We need to promote a walking environment and access to local shops and restaurants. That is the best way to liven up the area and the community.

  14. Actually, I think the building looks kinda cool -on paper. I don’t think that building would age well or look good on the street.

    Here’s the deal, if you don’t have to reinvent the wheel -dont. Build a nice modern version that adheres to the vision of great LA architects. Copy/ Revise a Neutra – or a Schindler bldg, with french style windows for great ventilation. Build a faux modern historic bldg, with high tech features. Solar panels, water recycling, green construction materials, etc.

    And if someone could figure out how to make new apt. building like this rent controlled, to maintain the
    diversity of our neighborhood and keep from turning it into Santa Monica – please do. But I guess it’s too
    late for some societal shift toward social engineering and away from real estate profiteering. Oh well, guess
    we’ll just have another fugly apt building filled with $500K yuppie hipster condos. Welcome to Echo Park, 2016, see you at the $15 per lb Lassen’s salad bar.

  15. Lilltle boxed on a hillside, lil boxes made of ticky tacky, there are pink ones an blue ones an green one’s, lil tickytacky boxes and they all look just the same. Seems like NO ONE CARES anymore about what fits into the character of a Historic Community. HUGE SHAME ECHO PARK, you’ve sold yourself SHORT.

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